Washington National Cathedral reopened its doors over the weekend, with Sunday seeing its first public service since an earthquake on August 23rd.
The 5.8 quake did an estimated $15 million of damage to the church, with the cathedral’s central tower pinnacles feeling the brunt.
On Sunday, however, spirits were high, as roughly 2,000 people attended a service that saw 51-year-old Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde installed as the ninth bishop of the Washington Episcopal Diocese. Budde is the first woman to be given the job. A week of concerts and an interfaith day of prayer lie ahead as a celebration of the cathedral’s recovery.
At Sunday’s service, the cathedral’s vicar Rev. Canon Jan Cope said:
“Thank you for your patience and support. This has been quite an extraordinary pilgrimage. There are lessons all around about opportunity.”
New bishop Budde said wider lessons should be taken from the damage done to the cathedral, stating:
“Not just for the building itself, but for what our church is for, what the cathedral is for: a spiritual base where we can renew our inspiration and our strength.”
The bells are ringing again at the cathedral, but signs of ongoing repairs remain highly visible. According to The Washington Post, swathes of netting still lie below the cathedral’s vaulted ceilings to catch debris, while exterior scaffolding is also in abundance.
The 104-year-old Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world, and previously served as the site of the state funeral of President Ronald Reagan. It has also been used for inaugural prayers services for new presidents since 1985.